Obi slams senate,says issues raised by Ningi not addressed

PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, has expressed concerns over the alleged padding of the 2024 budget with N3 trillion, stating that the suspension of the whistle-blower senator, Abdul Ningi, has not addressed the vital issues emanating from the allegations.

Obi, in a statement on Wednesday, March 13, on X, also called the leadership of the National Assembly to explain to Nigerians the exact amounts allocated for constituency projects for appropriate monitoring of implementation by the public.

He mentioned that fresh allegations have emerged regarding the Senate leadership’s indiscriminate and uneven allocation of constituency projects.


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While also noting that although the Senate might have denied the allegations of padding the budget by N3.7 trillion and agreed that there was only N1.2 trillion padded, a civic society group, Budgit, through their official, has agreed with the whistle-blower Senator. 

He said Budgit alleged that there were no detailed project allocations for about N3.7trn in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

The ICIR had earlier reported how the senate was turned into an uproar on Tuesday, March 12, during the plenary that led to the suspension of Abdul Ningi, a senator, for three months over the allegation he brought that the National Assembly padded the 2024 budget.

Ningi, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is the Senate Committee on Population chairman. He is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. 

Some senators from the northern part of the country had earlier rejected Ningi’s accusations, claiming the Senator from Bauchi State did not speak for them, even as the parties demanded an investigation into the allegation. 

On Monday, March 11, Ningi maintained that the 2024 budget could not account for N3.7 trillion.

However, reacting to his suspension, Obi said the senate suspension of the senator involved has not addressed the issue as still owes the Nigerian public a clear explanation over the various claims and counterclaims, including that of the executive arm.

“I had particularly elucidated in my earlier comment on what we can use the N3 trillion to achieve by showing that it is more than the national budget of the two most critical components of the human development index, health and education, combined.






     

     

    “Now that the executive arm has accepted that the padded amount is only N1.2 trillion, it is still a very significant amount, when you consider that it is almost 5 times the N251.47 billion proposed for Universal Basic Education, which is the foundation of education, in the Country. Today in Nigeria, the greatest challenge to human resource development is education, which has been identified as most critical at the basic level,” he wrote.

    According to him, the agreed padded amount of 1.2 trillion should have been utilised to ensure that approximately 20 million out-of-school children are taken off the streets and returned to schools.

    “The N1.2 trillion, which the executive branch admitted to have been padded, if channelled into any of the critical areas of development, could have positively impacted the nation and uplifted the people.

    “And if indeed the report from Budgit is true, that there is about N3.7 trillion without any detailed project allocations, I strongly urge the Senate to do more detailed work of channelling these funds into the critical areas of development – education,health and pulling people out of poverty, which will in turn, minimise the criminality we are facing today. We must, as a matter of urgency, put a stop to all the wastage of our scarce resources, amid the excruciating hardship in the country,” he added.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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